Local terror victims welcome new UN day of remembrance

Antonio Guterres said victims' courage is 'a lesson to us all'
Antonio Guterres said victims' courage is 'a lesson to us all'

A Northern Ireland group has issued a warm welcome for the new United Nations ‘International Day of Remembrance of, and Tribute to, the Victims of Terrorism’.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that victims’ courage in the face of adversity is “a lesson to us all”.

He added: “Supporting victims and their families is a moral imperative, based on promoting, protecting and respecting their human rights.”

His comments came on Tuesday last week, chosen to fall in the same week as the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the UN’s Baghdad compound, an attack which claimed 22 lives.

“Caring for victims and survivors and amplifying their voices helps to challenge the narrative of hatred and division that terrorism aims to spread. We need to provide victims with long-term assistance, including financial, legal, medical and psychosocial support,” he added.

Terrorism continues to pose a serious threat to international security, with the UN regularly targeted, he said.

Although more and more countries are being affected, he said most new victims today can be found in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria.

“But after terrorist attacks, we rarely hear about those who were killed and injured; the ordinary women, men, girls and boys, who were going about their daily business when their lives ended or were changed forever.

“We rarely hear about their surviving families, friends and communities, who must learn to live with the burden of terrorism for their entire lives.”

The UN chief said the new international day therefore serves as a reminder “to stop and listen to the victims and survivors of terrorism, to raise up their voices and recognise the impact terrorism has on their lives”.

Kenny Donaldson, director of services at the South East Fermanagh Foundation, said the group was encouraged that the UN was following the example of the European Day for Victims of Terrorism.

“The ethos of SEFF has always been that victims of terrorism should work corroboratively across nation states in furthering their objectives,” he said.

“We have written to the UN and asked that ‘The Troubles’ and the terrorist campaign which ensued would be reflected within events planned for this date in 2019. What occurred in NI was not a war, it was a terrorist campaign.”